Chapter 2 - The Young Christian's Page - The God-Glorifying Life
"And they glorified God in me." - Gal. 1:24.
Not initially or finally for our own enjoyment, or peace, or
influence, or power; not for the fulfilment of our best and deepest
convictions; neither for the good of other people, must we surrender
ourselves without reserve to God, seek the fulness of the Spirit's
indwelling, and crave the life of victory, love, and fruitfulness;
but from first to last that He may be glorified.
The Motive of Service
In a missionary training class the leader once asked the students to
give their reasons for going as missionaries into the foreign field.
Some gave their reason as being their personal experience of
salvation making them wish to lead others to the same. Others were
going out of obedience to the command of Christ, and the conviction
that it was His will that the world should be evangelised; but
although these and many other reasons were all splendid and true,
there can be no doubt that the highest level was reached by one who
said that it was purely that "He might see of the travail of His
soul and be satisfied." There are numerous motives behind our
Christian lives and service - e.g., fear, strong conviction, high
ideals, interest; admiration, duty, and many others, and there are
some which are much less worthy, savouring of personal interests and
selfish ends, but we reach the highest point of Christian character
when all other elements are lost in the transcendant and
all-absorbing desire that in and through everything the name of our
Lord should be glorified.
This was Paul's supreme aim. Everyone who is truly alive has one
dominating objective in life.
Paul was a most ambitious man, but not in the direction of the
limelight for himself; not to impress others with his own ability,
importance, and significance. He lived, laboured, studied, and
endured with the one object of commending the Christ of his Gospel
and the Gospel of his Christ. Every man is known for some
peculiarity of nature, habit, interest, or aim. To mention people's
names is usually to bring at once into mind something with which
they are closely associated.
A Mirror Reflecting God
Now, if we are to take the true significance of the words at the
head of this article, and many other such allusions, we are to
understand that Paul was never thought of by some people apart from
God. That is, to mention Paul in certain circles was at once to
conjure up in the minds of those people the Grace of God. They saw
the Grace of God in him. His life and presence made God real to
them. Their faith was strengthened their lives enriched, God came
very near to them when Paul was there. They glorified God in him.
This was the dominating ambition of his life, and there is no
greater or higher. It was not always thus. In the same verse he
tells us that he had once been known as the man who persecuted and
made havoc of the Church. To have mentioned his name at one time
would have suggested very different ideas and created very different
feelings. It was the contrast - read the context - which underpinned
this glorifying of God on Paul's account, and we must very carefully
bear in mind that God can be glorified in us first of all by the
difference that His grace makes. We have heard people blame their
peculiar temperament and make-up for certain things which were not
very honouring to their Lord. Others have excused certain distinct
faults - such as rashness of speech, hasteness of temper,
impetuosity of spirit or impulsiveness of action, on the grounds
that they were like Simon Peter, with whom the Lord was very
patient. Now this sort of thing will not do. Simon Peter was a very
different man after the Cross and Pentecost, so was every other
disciple, and let us repeat, it was the contrast made by grace in
Paul that made men give glory to Paul's Lord.
We shall arrest men and make them remark upon the wonders of grace
when they see patience where there was once impetuosity, love where
there was once cruelty, intolerance, or bitterness; quietness where
bluster and rage prevailed; generosity and magnanimity in the place
of meanness, bigotry, and selfishness, and so on.
From the Divine Standpoint
It is a pleasure to be able to say that there are some known to us
who really do, by contact with them, make us feel nearer God, who do
give us more hope in Him and infect us with His joy and love.
For them we cannot help thanking God, and we pray that we, too, may
be the means of some glorifying God in us.
This principle of God's glory is the key with which we can unlock
the doors of mysterious experiences. It was the custom of the Jews
to account for suffering and death by the sin of the afflicted, and
the disciples, seeing a man born blind, made it quite clear that
they were not exceptions to such a narrow judgment. They said, "Who
did sin, this man or his parents?" Whereupon Christ exploded their
theory by introducing another which it is very difficult for people
of weak faith to accept. He gave as the reason for the man's
blindness, "That the works of God should be manifest in him."
Something quite similar was said about the sickness and death of
Lazarus, and many other things which occurred during those days can
fairly truthfully be interpreted in the same light. It is certain
that Paul viewed things thus. Said he: "The things which happened
unto us have fallen out for the furtherance of the Gospel." Many
difficulties might have been prevented, many apparent
calamities have been averted, many episodes of extreme gravity might
never have been inculcated into the apostolic programme, were it not
that they were serving a purpose to the glory of God which could not
have been served without them. It does seem - as we read both Old
and New Testaments - that very often God either raises up
difficulties or permits them to arise in order that by their very
destruction or removal He may be glorified. God give us the love for
His glory which shall create in us a faith which interprets every
sorrow, disappointment, reverse, temptation, and conflict, in the
light of a possible contribution to His honour, either by the grace
given us to bear it, or by the actual removal of it, or by the
method of its removal, or by what it may achieve in someone else.
A Broad Guiding Principle
"God worketh in all things good to those that love Him and are the
called according to His purpose," but His activity is not primarily
good, but for the manifestation unto the world of
His own power, love, and wisdom.
Then, again, this principle should be the governing motive of
Christian conduct. We are always hearing discussions upon
questionable or doubtful things, lawfulness and expediency. For
those who are unreservedly out-and-out for Christ, the last word in
all matters of this kind is "can this thing really contribute to the
supreme end for which I have a being and have dedicated myself -
i.e., the glory of God, and that Christ may be all in all?"
We lay it down as a broad guiding principle. Our lives must be of a
positive character, having not a single negative or neutral element
in them. We cannot live on the bulkhead principle, shutting
physical, mental, and spiritual into watertight compartments. Our
unity is so absolute that unhealthiness in the least member has an
effect upon the whole constitution. It is a grand thing when every
sphere of life is made to definitely contribute to the glory of God,
but we must remember that there are elements in life which are
totally foreign to any such idea. We are sure that no greater
epitaph could be inscribed to any man's memory than that "they
glorified God in me," and we write with one object only - that there
may be more who, by the high principle of their lives, and the
regulation of all other matters, the way in which they regard the
things that happen unto them, the pure and joyful disinterestedness
of sacrifice and service, reveal to the darkened minds and shadowed
lives around them the glory of Him Whose they are and Whom they
"Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present
you before His presence without spot, in exceeding joy; to the only
God our Saviour, be glory, honour, dominion, and power, through all
time, now and for evermore. Amen."